The direct flight from Newark arrived at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport at noon. Christina and I stepped off the airplane staircase onto the runway and took a deep breath of the warm Caribbean sea air. Walking through the newly renovated terminal, we sauntered over to the immigration line.
“Have you been to the Bahamas before?” asked the immigration officer.
“Nope, first time!” The sound of the entry stamp hitting my passport page confirmed my visit to country 46.
We grabbed a cab to the center ($27) and were given an introduction to the country by our friendly driver.
“There are two interesting facts of the Bahamas, one, it’s illegal for Bahamians to gamble and two, 70% of Bahamians can’t swim!”
Wow, that is interesting.
We asked for an eatery of local specialties and our driver recommended the fish fry at Arawack Cay. We chose to eat at Goldies for the country’s specialty, conch.
After lunch, we took a ten minute walk along the beach towards the city center and as we got closer to the port, the spillover of cruise ship tourists was very apparent.
We walked to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas a block down from the beach. A friendly eccentric local greeted us and sold us our tickets from the gift shop ($3 ea). The gallery displayed local works mostly of contemporary and modern art. It was under construction so there was only one floor open at the time and took at most ten minutes to see the whole gallery.
We moved on to the next area, stopping at the pink Government House (1806), where Sir Arthur Foulkes, the Governor General of the Bahamas lives.
Back down to the waterside is the Straw Market, a typical tourist market filled with stalls hawking Caribbean themed wares. The trinkets were not of much interest, but I did get to pick up my tourist shirt.
We hurried through the market to Parliament Square where the Bahamian Parliament, Senate and Assembly is located. The grounds were green and maintained its historic colonial charm. We continued passed the Supreme Court building to the National Library that used to be the country’s first jailhouse.
Walking down East Street, we were a bit off track and as I pulled out the map to review, a local stopped her car in the middle of traffic to give us directions! So friendly!
Fort Fincastle was a few minutes walk up the hill. I was a bit disappointed by the small size of the fort built in 1793 and by the fact that it was closed. However, the view was grand as you could see the whole downtown Nassau from up here.
The staircase leading up to the fort is called the Queen’s Staircase, carved into the natural limestone wall in 1793.
From the fort, we wanted to hail a taxi directly to the airport, but there weren’t any available. After asking around, the security guard was kind enough to take us downtown to where the taxis are located and even helped us call one.
Our taxi driver wasn’t very talkative except when I asked him about Freeport.
“Freeport is quiet, I went there one weekend and was on the next plane out of there. You see, I’m a city boy, I need the excitement of Nassau. It’s like New York City!”
New York indeed.
We checked in and had plenty of time to spare, especially after our flight was delayed due to mechanical issues.
About 35 minutes later, we were on the ground in Freeport, Bahamas’ second largest city. We had a short 15 min cab ride to our hotel, the Grand Lucayan, where we checked in and settled into our room.
Drained from the day touring, we walked over to the Marketplace, where we decided to go for Greek food at Zorba’s.
As it was late, the waitstaff seemed eager for us to leave, so we finished up and walked over to the market square. A local entertainer was limboing under a 1 foot high stick with a cocktail balanced on his head, as the eager crowd of tourists and locals cheered him on. As great of a limbo dancer he was, sleep seemed more entertaining at this point, so we made our way back to the hotel.
We plan on shark diving tomorrow!